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How to paint a wood wardrobe

Updated February 21, 2017

If you plan to paint a wood wardrobe, you will have to perform specific preparation techniques depending on the condition of the wood. If the wardrobe is new and unpainted, you will need to condition the wood to promote adhesion. If the wardrobe is varnished, you will have to remove the glossy coating before any paint will adhere. Finally, if the wardrobe is stained, you must choose a specific type of paint capable of adhering to the oiled surface.

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  1. Remove the varnished layer by sanding it with 200-grit sandpaper. Sand with the grain of the wood. Keep sanding until the finish appears dull. Skip this step if the wardrobe is unvarnished.

  2. Wipe down the wardrobe with a tack cloth. Remove all dust from the wood, or you may have problems with adhesion.

  3. Protect portions of the wardrobe you want left unpainted with masking tape. Cover the flooring around the wardrobe with dust sheets.

  4. Open windows to provide ventilation.

  5. Apply a coat of oil-based primer to the wardrobe using a 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inch) oil-based paintbrush. Prime the inside of the wardrobe first. Allow the primer to dry for two hours.

  6. Wash the oil-based brush with white spirit.

  7. Apply two light coats of oil-based paint to the wardrobe using the cleaned 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inch) oil-based paintbrush. Paint the inside of the wardrobe first. Apply thin coats of paint. Do not over-apply, as this may lead to runs and drips. Allow two hours of dry time between coats.

  8. Tip

    Never attempt to coat a stained wood wardrobe with acrylic latex primer or paint, or you will end up with chipping and peeling. However, if the wood wardrobe is not stained, you may use acrylic latex primer or paint instead of oil-based coatings.


    Do not attempt to coat the wardrobe with a single, heavy coat of paint as this may result in sagging and brushstrokes in the finish coat. Sanding against the grain of wood can cause significant damage. Always sand along with the wood grain.

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Things You'll Need

  • Palm sander
  • 200-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Masking tape
  • Heavy-duty fabric dust sheet
  • Oil-based primer
  • 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inch) oil-based paintbrush
  • White spirit
  • Oil-based paint
  • Acrylic latex primer
  • 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inch) latex paintbrush
  • Acrylic latex paint

About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.

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